The Past, The Future, Quality, and ASQ

I’ve been working on the ASQ 2011 Future of Quality Study for the past couple of weeks, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the future. Many possible futures, which is the point of the study. Working in the future often invites me to reflect on the past. I have a need to connect the dots. Past and future.

I joined ASQ in 1984. I began working for ASQ in 1986. I suspect I was called to quality long before 1984, but that’s a different story.

I have two questions on my mind and would welcome your response. The first question stems from the past. The second question is about the future.

The Past: The philosophy of modern quality reaches back to the late 1930s and 1940s. That’s not so long ago, but it might be ancient history. I’ve been in three large quality gatherings in the past year where the question was asked, “How many of you have heard of W. Edwards Deming?” I was shocked and saddened when less than a third of the hands went up. “How about Joseph M. Juran?” Fewer hands. It occurs to me that something isn’t right about that. Am I being nostalgic, or does the quality community bear some responsibility for making sure its philosophic foundations are not lost to history?

The Future: What do professionals under the age of 35 see as the future of quality? Perhaps for most of the readers, this will mean asking someone who fits the demographic, although I’d be pleased to learn that young professionals read my blog. Why the question? Well, I’m guessing the panel of 150 experts from around the world who contributed to the ASQ Futures Study are all much senior to 35, so the future the study paints is one described by a senior group. What do the 35s and under think and see, on a global scale?

The insight you gather may well connect the dots between the first and second question.

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